Monica Bedi

Submitted by on Oct 2, 2015

Abu Salem’s Love For Me Was Pure: Monica

Monica Bedi speaks from the heart about her chequered past and new beginnings.

Chhod de saari duniya kisike liye

Yeh munasib nahin aadmi ke liye,

Pyaar se bhi zaroori kayee kaam hai

Pyaar sab kuch nahin zindagi ke liye.

Monica Bedi found her moment of liberation as she wrote these lines in a letter to her then paramour Abu Salem from the confines of the prison in Portugal. After reading the charge sheet against the 1993 bomb blast accused, reason had finally presided over emotion. Romance and betrayal, crime and captivity. Monica’s a storyboard with Abu Salem, is the stuff of noir bestsellers – a liaison which brought her infamy and umbrage of international proportions. But few know that Monica went through her own hell as she vacillated between her sympathy for Salem and the wretchedness of being a fugitive. When you hear the soft-spoken Monica, it’s impossible to imagine her as a gangster’s moll. Few would know that hers is the serene voice of the spiritual album Ek Onkaar. Her unblemished complexion camouflages the trauma of her being put through time’s wringer. Nevertheless, the fragile girl from Hoshiarpur has literally gone places. Dubai, the USA, Portugal. to stinking prison cells. Gudiya, Salem’s pet name for her, is one gritty girl. She reruns her narrative with dispassion – except for an occasional tear. “My mother slipped into a coma after an accident in 1995. She came out of it partially paralysed. Since then she has fought asthma, thyroid and every other disease with just yoga!”she says explaining from where she derives her strength. Though she’s attained closure to her relationship with the don after much torment, there’s no rancour.”Pyaar ho jaata hai. you don’t plan it,” she says plaintively. The baby pink walls in her room endorse her belief in fairytales…

“I loved Sridevi”

I was just one when my family shifted from Hoshiarpur to Norway. My father was practising medicine there but gave it up to start a garment shop in Norway. Life there was idyllic. My mother (Shakuntala Chawla), a Hindu, had a temple at home. I saw my father (Prem Kumar Bedi) read the Granth Sahib while I grew up with Christian influences there. When

I was young, I was told that I resembled Saira Banu. (Laughs) It somewhere got into my head. I loved dancing. I’d lock myself in a room and dance for hours. Every Saturday we were supposed to clean up our rooms. My brother would bribe me saying, “I’ll get you Sridevi-Jeetendra VCDs, if you clean up my room.” I’d happily do it because I loved Sridevi.

“I was this ‘NRI girl’ who moved around in a Maruti!”

Every year we’d visit India. One particular summer vacation in 1995, I stayed back to learn Kathak and joined Gopi Krishna’s classes. There I met Manojji (Kumar). He was planning a film with his younger son Kunal and offered me the female lead. I was excited and cajoled dad to say yes. I began attending acting classes. But more than a year passed and the project didn’t take off. My father requested Manojji to release me. Having sat idle for so long, I signed whatever films came my way including Surakshaa with Saif Ali Khan, Kaala Samrajya with Suniel Shetty, Jaanam Samjha Karo with Salman Khan and Jodi No.1 with Sanjay Dutt among others (between 1995-2001). I also did South Indian films (Taj Mahal, Sivayya, Speed Dancer) and some Bengali and Gujarati films. I moved around in a Maruti 1000, which mom had bought me. The buzz was that this ‘NRI girl moves around in a Maruti!’ We lived in Juhu, an upmarket place. I never had to face the casting couch since my mom was always with me. Also, I came across as a reserved person. So no one tried to make a pass at me.

“Abu and I became friends over the phone”

I met Abu around the end of 1998 at a show in Dubai. He introduced himself as a businessman but with a different name. After I returned to Mumbai, he kept in touch. We became friends over the phone. He’d call me up every half an hour; the comfort level grew between us. I began sharing things with him. We kept talking over the phone for around nine months. I don’t know when we fell in love. Then I flew to Dubai to meet him. There he told me that his real name was Abu Salem. Even then I didn’t know who ‘Abu Salem’ was. Actually, not many had heard his name then. He said he owned a showroom of cars, which he showed me from outside. He also organised shows. In the little time that we spent, we were nice to each other. You watch a film, go for dinner and your time is over… He was loving, caring and down to earth. I didn’t feel the need to go into any further details. When you’re in love you don’t see beyond.

Monica BediMonica Bedi
Monica BediMonica Bedi
Monica BediMonica Bedi

Leave a Comment